The Churchill Park is bound to be one of the more heavily trafficked entrances to the Bloomingdale Trail. For one, the park has long been a popular spot for area canines and humans looking to play. Secondly, this gateway to the 606 is the closest to the heart of Wicker Park, one of the major culture hubs on the North Side. The neighborhood is loaded with rock venues, taco restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques and galleries. Oh, in case you're wondering, the park is not named for Winston Churchill, but rather the Churchill Cabinet Company, which owned the lot up until 1973.
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What to do off the 606 at Churchill Park
Your hip New York City friend is in town for the weekend, but his suitcase is lost somewhere between here and La Guardia. The simple solution: Book it to this tiny Bucktown men’s boutique, which boasts an exclusive collection of pricey clothing including Seize sur Vingt dress shirts ($188-$210), skater-esque Trovata pants ($150) and Paul Smith jackets ($500-$600). For wannabe trendsetters who need some fashion advice, the always-stylish salespeople can put together a smashing outfit in minutes.
Owned by a pair of, yes, BFFs, this new bike shop works diligently with customers to find the best bike for them. It offers Bianchi, Giant and Public bikes, as well as clothing for commuters and casual cyclists. Tune-ups and repairs are also available, as are group riding sessions. Serious female cyclists will dig the BFF Racing team.
Hipsters, yuppies, freaks, dirty old men and bluegrass bands used to pack this beloved corner tap, which changed ownership in 2011 and underwent a bit of a personality shift. Darker, sleeker and with more focus on DJs with underground cred, the Charleston has morphed into quite a scene. The newer Bucktown residents are happy as clams, plunking down tens for Moscow mules, while those dirty old men have shuffled off to find the few remaining dives nearby.
Containing a junior baseball field, an event plaza and a dog-friendly area, Churchill Field Park is a popular destination for area pet owners. The Bucktown park is an entry point on the 606, offering an elevated route to nearby Logan Square and Humboldt Park.
The nearby condo dwellers with kids in tow may be a different crowd than the Polish regulars who once frequented this joint post-Prohibition, but the owners have gone out of their way to restore the original cocktail-culture look of the ’50s. The place is always packed, thanks to a dependable, old-school, family-style Italian menu with standouts like grilled calamari, chicken Vesuvio, and escarole with sausage and beans. But if you’re kidphobic, go late for the lounge vibe of Sinatra standards and signature martinis.
The Bucktown favorite has a line on Friday and Saturday nights that’s worth the wait. Half bar and half apartment, the space will make you nostalgic for the house parties of your college days, if you aren’t still living them. Grab a glass of whiskey or dirt-cheap PBR and elbow your way into the crowd packed wall-to-wall with hipsters. Rotating DJs play everything from throwback 80’s hip-hop to Brazilian samba, and there are plenty of dark candlelit corners to canoodle in if you hit it off with someone on the dance floor.
The pizza-by-the-slice joint caters to the young, drunk Wrigleyville crowds, who will noisily wait in line for mac and cheese, gyro or buffalo wing pizza. These toppings sound like they shouldn't work, but surprisingly, they do. It's BYO, so off hours, it's not a bad spot to meet up with friends before or after a Cubs game.
Korean tacos are old news, but they feel fresh again at this delightful Korean-fusion spot, where Indian-style parathas replace masa tortillas to unexpectedly magical effect. There is more to En Hakkore, however, than these instantly famous bulgogi tacos: Bowls of bibimbap overflow with fresh vegetables and easily serve two; cups of milky, nutty Job's-tears tea provide a warm-up on cool nights; and a selection of packaged sweets, such as Pocky, will make anyone feel like a kid in an adorable candy store.
This Swedish heritage outdoor brand brings Scandinavia-designed outerwear, apparel, accessories and gear to Chicago with its first retail store in the city. The store also carries a curated selection of outdoor products from partner brands like Hanwag, Brunton and Primus, making this a one-stop shop for your next outdoor adventure.
The local landmark contains a smattering of artists’ studios open to the public Saturdays and Sundays and the first Friday night of each month. Recently Brainstorm Comics took up residence in the building, stocking books and collectibles as well as hosting a monthly comedy show. Resident artists’ work can be seen in the Bank of America branch on the ground floor, which still hopes to be forgiven for replacing the beloved coffee shop Filter.